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Sunday, 13 July 2014

APC Convention: Why I Asked Sam Sam Jaja To Back Down Amaechi


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There is also an insinuation that you were planning to run with Aminu Tambuwal?

There was nothing like that. These are fabrications by people.

Why do political parties in Nigeria usually abhor internal democracy and why do they usually force people to step down for others without giving others chance?
Who did we force to step down?
Why did you ask your candidate at the convention to step down?
Why I asked my candidates to step down was because I had given my commitment to Asiwaju that I would support whichever candidate he supported. And the reason I gave him my commitment was because I had said to him that we needed to look at this issue of being a Muslim party. So, first we need to get a new chairman and he has to be a Christian. So, he said to me: Okay, I have brought a Christian and according to what you said the day we were negotiating things. Then why are you now asking somebody to run against the person based on the promise you made to me? And I like to keep promises.
So, you made your promise to Asiwaju and not the party?
Asiwaju is not the party. Asiwaju may have an interest in supporting a particular candidate just like other people will have their own candidate. There was Timipre Sylva supported by other persons. Dont forget that Sylva ran up till the convention ground but when Asiwaju had convinced some governors and other people, he saw what was going on and said I hereby step down. Maybe he didnt want his name to be announced at the podium to have been beaten. But for me, dont forget that I said I didnt campaign to anybody about Sam Jaja or anybody. I only said if my promise was not called to question, which had to do with my integrity, probably I would have supported openly.
There was an online news portal that quoted you extensively on how bitter you were after the APC national convention, alleging betrayal by Tinubu?
That is total fabrication. The convention ended around 5:00am and by 6:00am I was at the airport looking for ticket to go to the UK. So, when was the interview? I played a prominent role at the APC convention. I was part of the process by which the man (John Oyegun) emerged. I was among those making peace, going to people and begging people that we should allow peace because we want to make sure that we have a platform to confront the PDP. So, how did this interview take place? I was in the UK.
Lets start this way: was there any agreement between you and the federal government that led to the release of your aircraft?
There was nothing like that. I didnt even see anybody in the federal government; we didnt even have any meeting. I just call one person. It was not this plane they were interested in releasing, but the helicopters. I said I wanted to sell the helicopters and the person I called offered to talk to the president to seek the approval of the helicopters and they got the approval.
And in the course of getting approval for the helicopters, they got approval for the plane to be released. There was no negotiation, no interface or whatsoever other than the telephone conversation. So, what is all this rumour that I am going to the PDP? I have finished with the PDP.
The position of your party on the Ekiti governorship election is a bit confusing. While the incumbent governor has conceded defeat and congratulated his opponent, days later, some APC leaders said they would go to court?
They didnt say they would go to court on the election. It was Alhaji Lai Mohammed who said the election is beyond just the voting; that the process of election is part of an election. So, the military intervention, which is what the PDP intends to use for the 2015 elections to employ military men as part of the electioneering process so, you would be having an unfair election, where APC supporters would be chased away by the military. That is why I said what we have is a diarchy not a democracy government by both the military and the civilian.
Was there military intervention?
Look at Ekiti now, they stopped APC governors from coming in; they stopped members of APC from Ekiti, leaders of APC were arrested. A Senators father was beaten up and other things. That is military intervention; people would be scared to come out because they dont know what the military would do.
But there was heavy military presence in Edo State during the last governorship election in the state.
I wasnt in Edo State, PDP and APC didnt complain. But this one, I was there.
Initially during the Edo governorship election, Governor Adams Oshiomhole complained of heavy military presence but when the election went in his way, the story changed..?
I am not in the position to answer that question because in this case, it was very glaring that APC members were arrested. Why are people pretending? There was one instance where Channels Television showed live about 20 persons that were carried away. And Channels said they didnt know the reason why the military took them away when they came to vote. Channels TV showed it live and I watched it.
In October, the number of APC governors would have decreased by one and another election will hold in Osun in a few weeks, what is your party doing to avert another disaster?
You will help us to tell the president to keep the soldiers in his house. All of us are part of the problem of Nigeria. President impounded newspapers and journalists did not do anything. In other country, they would have protested on the street. We are talking to him that there is need for him to stop using soldiers to conduct election.
Does it mean your party is afraid it may lose Osun?
How can we lose Osun? Say something else.
As a leader in the country, how do feel that democracy is still evolving?
Are we not ashamed that it is still evolving; every year it is evolving? Next year will make it 16 years of post-Abdusalam Abubakar. Before Abubakar there was NPN and we are still evolving? When shall we grow up?
Given the allegation of the militarisation of the Ekiti election, what do you think is the proper security measure for election?
The law says police and let us see the consequences. Are you saying there are no soldiers in Borno?
But there is Boko Haram in Borno?
That is the point I am making. So, it is not necessarily the presence of soldiers that will stop violence. After all, if the presence of soldiers could stop violence, by now Borno should be the citadel of joy and happiness where people would be dancing. There are so many soldiers in Borno so many military equipment and hardware, yet we are still bombings in Maiduguri. There are many soldiers in Abuja and of all places that we have thought would be very secure is the plaza, which was bombed recently. So, police are enough.
Are you saying police would be enough in Nigerias circumstance?
Are you going to war? I think in the current security situation, police are enough for security measure during election.
What is your take on the issue with the NJC over appointment of Chief Judge of Rivers State?
The quarrel we have about the NJC is that the constitution says 10 years at the bar and that is the only qualification for a Chief Judge. It didnt say whether you should be from Rivers State judiciary or most senior Judge.
But there are recommendations by the NJC?
Yes, I agree. You send your names to the NJC. You send three names; they pick up one and send it to you. In our own case, they sent a name to us and said the reason why they didnt take the person we preferred was because he was a Judge of the Customary Court of Appeal and that was what disqualified him. Then we wrote back and said you are wrong, the law says 10 years. It doesnt matter where he comes from. So, I didnt see where you see the most senior Judge from. And the court said so.
What prompted you to move out from the normal because that has been the tradition.
It is not true. Was Teslim Elias a Judge? He was a Professor of Law. There are so many abnormal if you call that one normal. The law says 10 years.
Wont people read that as interference in the judiciary?
No. It is not me. They are the people interfering.
They are in the judiciary. NJC has no power. Like somebody told me in America, that there is nothing like true federalism. It is the abnormality here that makes Nigerians coin the word true federalism. Federalism is federalism. If we want to pursue federalism pursue federalism. Dont come here and say today you are a federalist and tomorrow you are a republican, next day you are practising unitary system of government.
In pursuing federalism, the states have the right to choose who will be their Chief Judge and recommend, and you tell them who will be their Chief Judge? That is one. The same law says the governor has the right to accept your recommendation or reject. If he rejects, he writes to you that I have rejected. I rejected in writing and re-forwarded the name of the person I felt by law qualified to be the Chief Judge. They said I have no right to reject. So, you see, I am fighting on the side of the people and I thought journalists would join me.
You sent three names
Yes, including hers (Justice Okocha) but we said in this order and to help NJC, we attached all the report on all of them the SSS report. They said it doesnt matter because it is not part of the requirement. We sent report by NBA they all rejected her nomination. All their comments on the three judges were sent to them and we didnt favour anybody. We said these were the three judges you said we should send and all that informed our choice.
If they are rejecting number one for instance, cant you take the second option?
The second option is what I said I wont take.
Then go for the third and why did you put the names there in the first instance?
It is not me. Dont forget that there is State Judicial Council. I didnt mind any of the three, the only reason why I reacted was the reasons they gave for rejecting the first person. Dont forget that when they sent it, I was aware and I said fine, I dont mind working with anyone of them. But when they wrote to me to say we reject the number one sent by the State Judicial Council because he is not qualified since he was the President of the Customary Court. I said Haba; that is not what the law says.
The law simply says 10 years at the bar. He didnt say it must be a Judge or marry from Rivers State. It didnt say it must come from Rivers State. We once had a Chief Judge, Justice Douglas. He was already in Court of Appeal in Enugu when they brought him back to Port Harcourt to be Chief Judge.
What plans have you after office? Is it true you have your eyes on the Senate?
I will go and love my wife because she is harassing me every day. I have not shown her enough love and attention, so I need to do that for six months to one year. I will spend one or two years with my children since they lost the chances of staying with their father. That is three years. Then I will be 53 years old. I will go to the university to do another first degree either in history or law. I will do a Masters and a PhD and then I will be 60-something. Then the remaining years, I will teach as I get closer to the grave.
Are you exiting the political scene?
It was Channels Television that asked me whether I wanted to run for presidency and I said I couldnt answer that question. They asked why? I said because in Nigeria nobody runs for president. You just sit and you become president; you just see yourself one day wake up and become president prepared or unprepared. There were only two persons who have emerged president by wanting to be president of Nigeria. They were Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha. So, the rest, especially the civilian presidents have always sat down in their house and they have been appointed president. So, why not allow me to sit down and see if I would be president.
It would be unfair to ask me such question since providence has always produced the president of Nigeria. If you go to the civilian presidents alone, Alhaji Shehu Shagari went to the convention as a senatorial candidate, he ended up becoming President. Tafawa Balewa was in his house; somebody won an election and told Balewa to go and be the Prime Minister. After Tafawa Balewa, it was Shagari. Earnest Shonekan was appointed as President. He was not looking forward to be president but he became one.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was in prison and they called him out of the prison to come and be president, he became president. After Obasanjo, Alhaji Umar YarAdua had packed his luggage to go to teach in Zaria, they brought him back, he became president. Our dear president wanted to become the governor of Bayelsa; he was begging them; Please sir, I dont want to be vice-president, keep me as governor of Bayelsa. They said no, come and be the vice-president. From come and be vice-president, what is he now? So, why do people ask me whether I want to be president after this kind of intervention by God? Why not ask me whether I am fasting?
What are the chances of the APC in Rivers State in 2015?
Wait and see. Just tell them to keep their soldiers at the barracks and allow us to go and cast our votes
What if they brought in the soldiers?
I wont tell them what I will do. Didnt you hear Osun State saying carry your charms? Did you read the story of Ombatse? Did you hear that people were handing their guns on their own volition?
But you are said to be calling on the name of God?
How do you know I wont call the name of God that day and all the soldiers would be handing over their weapons?
You fasted and fasted in Ghana, didnt you?
How do you know I wont be fasting by now so that, that day soldiers would hand over their weapons to pastors? We would appoint a pastor who they would hand over their weapon to.
How will the APC presidential candidate and his running mate emerge?
Leave that assignment for God. Why are you bothering yourself about that?
Is it going to be by consensus?
No. We have a process in place. We have a process whereby there would be primary.
Is it the same process you aborted at your convention?
We didnt abort it.
But the Muslim tag is still on your party?
Am I a Muslim? Is Chief Oyegun a Muslim? Is Timipre Sylva a Muslim?
There are indications that the APC may be moving towards a Muslim/Muslim ticket?
Why dont you wait? You want to be a prophet?
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